How can organizations get along in an organic movement?

There’s something about a movement that attracts attention, people and/or media and/or whatever. Some more than others. There’s the Tea Party movement.. Occupy movement.. Arab Spring movement.. movements can be social, political, even religious.

Some people have a degree of uneasiness with calling something that’s orchestrated by an organization as a movement, insinuating that a movement is more pure or more real if it is entirely organic and no one person or no one organization can be pin-pointed as the starting point of the phenomena occurring. Yes, there’s something more interesting about the organic thing, the random and uncontrolled.

I think language is elastic and whether a cause or movement is organized or organic, the intention is that of doing something to rally people and resources to make a difference in the world.

My drawing to the right was to help me sort out movements and how organized institutions and organic individuals fit into a cause. (Albeit oversimplifying something far more complicated.)

The 1st circle (top left) illustrates an organization’s effort to champion a cause, and the organization wants to promote the cause through advocacy and rally resources to its own efforts by recruiting people to serve the organization.

The 2nd circle (top right) illustrates the organic efforts scattered around one unifying cause. No formal organizational entity exists with the branding savvy to advertise and promote the cause, and yet movement is happening by word-of-mouth and word-of-mouse through the collective efforts of individuals and small groups of people.

The 3rd circle shows the mix of the organized and the organic contributing to a bigger movement to championing a cause. An organization could be one of several orgs in the cause/movement. And people who are allergic to the institutional machinery can participate in the cause through their own organic ways. While organizations do their thing to recruit people and mobilize resources for its efforts, a big-sized movement is going to take more than organizational strategies or organic randomness.

One organization can’t tackle a cause or create a movement alone. If it could, the cause isn’t big enough.

Here’s 2 other ways for an organization to go more after the cause rather than its own sustainability (or guarding its own brand or grasping for its own survival): [1] the organization can collaborate and partner with other organizations for some projects when it makes sense. Notice how movies and video games (and NASCAR) shows multiple brands in the opening credits. Don’t go it alone when you don’t have to. And you don’t have to. [2] the organization can equip and resource the organic individuals. Think of the impact that could happen if it’s more about the cause than just being about the organization.

What would you add?


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